As much as “Merchants of Doubt”documentary movie star/book author Naomi Oreskes wishes to be a “Friend of Various Courts” and a friend to plaintiffs Honolulu and Maui County in particular, her fourth filing of one of these only points a giant arrow once again at the way enviro-activists across the board really only have one viable weapon in their arsenal when it comes to supporting their notion that fossil fuel companies engaged in disinformation campaigns.
I must first confess, I missed the news of this latest Oreskes et al. Friend of the Court brief last September 24, 2021. Thanks to Energy in Depth’s March 10, 2022 “Hawaii Spurned Rockefeller Group’s Climate Lawsuit” article, now I know about it (my downloaded PDF copy is here), along with one new noteworthy item potentially connected to it in some way.
EID’s report illustrates very nicely how there are other complicating angles to the ‘fossil fuel executives paid skeptic climate scientists to spread disinformation‘ accusation and the core people promulgating that. One name they mention is the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI)’s Alyssa Johl. I’ve also mentioned her name at GelbspanFiles, most notably in my 2019 blog post about the #2 Oreskes et al.’s Baltimore amicus brief. The interesting thing in this latest Hawaiian lawsuit angle is how Ms Johl seemed to be unable to keep her mouth shut on how the “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuits are presented to various ‘plaintiff’ community leaders. This happened during a March 1, 2022 “City Climate Corner” podcast interview (at a podcast site containing zero bio info about its year-old formation or about its co-hosts, one of whom turns out predictably to be a graduate of Al Gore’s Climate Reality school, the place that teaches presenters to dutifully regurgitate Gore’s own favorite “smoking gun” evidence that supposedly proves Exxon orchestrated climate disinformation campaigns). Within her March 1 interview, Johl said this:
… we are actively in conversation with folks all over this country. We’re happy to have conversations with you to share more about these lawsuits … about the firms that are available for representation. We can share all the resources that we have and the tools in our toolkit.
What resources and what toolkit?? Were Honolulu and Maui County suckered into regurgitating talking points about compelling “reposition global warming” ‘leaked industry memos evidence’ that was presented to them out of other Sher Edling boilerplate lawsuits such as Imperial Beach v Exxon? Were they suckered into regurgitating talking points about ‘sinister looking disinformation ads’ that Sher Edling sources from Kert Davies’ Climate Files website?
Ms Johl is only one step separated from Kert Davies, a two decade+ promulgator of the central accusation, which I noted in my post about the #2 Oreskes et al. Baltimore brief. That connection is now even more relevant from this fourth Friend of the Court brief where Naomi Oreskes & friends demonstrate once again how these lawsuits – and the support thereof – are enslaved to accusations about ye olde worthless never-implemented “reposition global warming” memos and particular never-used newspaper ads.
Meanwhile, let’s review how Oreskes et al.’s court filings are a potential act of political suicide for the political side of the global warming issue:
My February 8, 2019 blog post about the #1 Oreskes et al. California amicus brief detailed how every one of the participants – including Oreskes herself – are separated only a degree or three from Ross Gelbspan’s core accusation stemming from the worthless “reposition global warming” ‘leaked memos,’ along with other situations that only damage the credibility of those participants.
My September 3, 2021 blog post about the “third-time-is-the-charm” Oreskes et al. Minnesota brief pointed out that if the goal of the brief was to affirm the validity of the “reposition global warming” ‘leaked memos,’ it was shooting itself in the foot by inexplicably omitting the ‘evidence’ featured in both previous brief copies.
What’s new in this Hawaiian brief that’s otherwise nothing more than a copy of the first three? Well, one of the smaller details is that Naomi Oreskes is no longer partly professor Oreskes, she is only Dr Oreskes now. I hadn’t caught it in my prior posts about these briefs, but in the introduction pages, where was a big section about her “Merchants of Doubt” book, that disappeared in the 3rd Minnesota version. It’s missing in this 4th version as well.
But this 4th version, which otherwise appears to be a very close copy of the Minnesota version, most notably puts the missing “reposition global warming” accusation material back in where it was intended to be. Unlike that prior version with its initial mention of Dr Patrick Michaels that went nowhere, when this Hawaii brief says Dr Michaels in on page 24 in connection with ye olde “Information Council for the Environment” and the memo set falsely attributed to the ICE campaign, it’s really is on page 24!
The supposedly ‘leaked’ “reposition global warming” memo set is literally the best ‘evidence’ the enviro-activist accusers have to prove the fossil fuel industry colluded with and paid skeptic climate scientists to undercut the certainty of man-caused global warming. How many fatal faults are there in Oreskes & friends accusation right here? Let me count the ways:
- Information Council FOR the Environment. For, not on.
- Oreskes & friends’ source for the “Letter from Dr. Patrick Michaels” is arguably a shell game distraction; a citation cascade starting with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Dossier #5” PDF file. UCS also gets the ICE name wrong in several places in their writeup about it, with the lone exception of getting it right when they disclosed how their scans source from Greenpeace (their 49-page PDF scans set lacks the first page at Greenpeace’s set) while Greenpeace’s scans set (including the Chicken/Doomsday ads, pg 49 & 50 there) actually sources from the old Ozone Action group. It is arguably disinformation for Oreskes & friends to say the source is anywhere else but Ozone Action …. and Ross Gelbspan.
- The words “reposition global warming” do not appear anywhere in any copy of Dr Michaels’ letters at the Ozone Action scans set. Use my own downloaded PDF file from Greenpeace to see for yourselves, pages 2 through 6.
- The “reposition global warming” memos were a rejected subset proposed to the Western Fuels Association’s pilot project “Information Council for the Environment” public relations campaign. Since that strategy was a directive nobody operated under, it therefore cannot be stated that the set is evidence of “a clear acknowledgement that global warming had previously been positioned and accepted as fact within the scientific community.”
Here’s a hint for congressional investigators and law firms defending energy companies accused of spreading disinformation: yes, these amicus brief participants will gladly be sworn in under oath to reflexively repeat the talking points they were taught about how the “reposition global warming” ‘leaked memos’ and the public relations campaign those memos are (falsely) attributed to irrefutably prove disinformation campaigns led by ‘Big Coal & Oil’ exist. But these people are as arrogantly confident as they are because nobody challenges them to back up what they say or to prove their expertise is what they claim it is. Challenge any one of them to explain what they know about the sources of that accusation, and they won’t be able to prove what was real or not if their reputations depended on it. Each one is potentially a catastrophically weak link in that accusation chain; Oreskes and her subordinate Geoffrey Supran demonstrated that once already under quite minimal questioning.
If congressional investigators and energy companies’ law firms put enough pressure on especially vulnerable accusers, the resulting implosion of the whole ‘crooked skeptics’ accusation, and the people who go down with it, might be quite spectacular.
You’re great in the locker room, pal, and your reflexes might die hard, but you’re weak when you put your spikes on.